Not long ago on the DC Comics Source blog, it was announced that the creators behind The Shield and The Web — super-hero titles unfolding in a relatively untouched corner of the DC Universe, featuring new incarnations of classic characters owned by Archie Comics — would begin introducing some more of those new interpretations of the Archie heroes. Among them are the Jaguar, the Comet, the Black Hood, Mr. Justice and the Fox. On the blog, Red Circle editor Rachel Gluckstern indicates the reason for bringing in more characters is so the creators can build up to the revelation of a new (sorta) super-hero team. She wrote: “2009 was the year of the Red Circle; 2010 is the year of the Mighty Crusaders!”
That begs an interesting question: what the hell for?
The latest sales figures I can find (from November) show that The Shield #3 sold only 8,546 units, while The Web #3 sold a paltry 7,631 copies. Even the Red Circle one-shots that launched these titles for DC, penned by the popular J. Michael Straczynski, sold fewer than 20,000 copies each. The titles are clearly in cancellation territory, and for the most part, the two series are put together by lesser-known or unknown creators.
Aside from mentions on its own blog, DC’s support for these comics seems to be practically non-existent. Of course, it’s also been clear from the start the publisher really didn’t know what it wanted to do with these properties. The original plan was for Straczynski to introduce the Archie heroes into the DC Universe by way of team-ups with more iconic characters in The Brave and the Bold, but that idea was abandoned after it was originally announced (of course, given B&B‘s sales levels, that tack probably wouldn’t have served the Red Circle characters all that well either).
At best, these titles have featured rather generic super-hero stories. Furthermore, DC has other super-hero families owned by outside interests — the Milestone characters and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents — it’s looking to incorporate into its core universe and for which it wants to develop audiences.
From a purely financial perspective, it’s difficult to understand why DC seems to making long-term plans for its Red Circle line (if two titles can constitute a “line”). Maybe DC is waiting to see how the titles sell in the trade-paperback format. Maybe DC had to make such an investment to secure the use of these characters, abandoning the project after just a few months is too bitter a pill to swallow.
Maybe DC should have tried using Archie’s other heroes. You know, like Pureheart the Powerful?
OK, maybe not.
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